Asphyxia: The Tragic Lore In Nigeria.

Asphyxia: The Tragic Lore In Nigeria.

Elempe Dele

Recently, I sent my writer friend and brother, Ibe a mail and it took him some time to reply owing to the network problem there in Owerri. He complained bitterly about the situation of things in Nigeria and asked me what is really wrong with the country. I told him that we are being faced with situations of asphyxia gradually. It took him by surprise; he asked how can we be faced with such condition when we have so much free air in the country. Well, I knew and I was sure he knew what I was saying. He knew I was talking in metaphor, he knew the asphyxia in the context of Nigeria situation is an analogy and is closely related to rhetorical statements. How can Nigerians be suffering from asphyxia with so much free air?

Asphyxia is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from abnormal breathing. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia can cause coma or death. Some of the signs are restlessness, hunger for air and profuse sweating among others. But in my mind, I wasn’t so much impressing on that my brother about the lack of air in the country per se, I was talking about the series of unfortunate events that we are daily faced with in Nigeria that have the capacity to take air from us. Our existence, most times, is being asphyxiated by happenstances that are beyond our control. There is this feeling of claustrophobia one feels when one is meet with impossible situations, you feel almost breathless.

In these moments, our trying times, you hear some 20billion dollars or 12billion dollars or 10billion dollars missing from NNPC when some 60 -70 percent of the people live below the poverty line. How can? The Central Bank Governor is suspended on this basis, there is an inquiry by the National Assembly, the finance minister said they would find out, the Auditor General of the federation says there cannot be a forensic auditing, the matter is slowly dying out and in a melodramatic way, you feel sorry for your dear nation. Then how do you feel? Breathlessness: The very free air is taken away from you, and then you are almost choking when you analyze within you what can be achieved with that kind of money. But you won’t go into coma or die from the emotional asphyxia; something good will surely come to wipe away that sadness.

As if that is not enough, you go happily to the newsstand or tune to the radio or tv, you are met with a complete sad news: Boko Haram kills teenage students while they were asleep. You see the bodies of youngsters who’s dreams have been cut short. You reflect on your brothers, cousins, sons….those children could just have been any of yours. What about the over 70 lives recently cut short at a bus terminal near Abuja? Or is it the girls that out-number a century that were recently abducted in Borno? You think about what will be their fate, if they are ever released, have they been sexually abused, how would they be able to get over their trauma?

You are in tears and you can hardly breathe. You have no words to address the type of mankind who can cause such destruction of souls because you can’t fathom the reason why? What happens to you except you feel drained by emotions? Especially when you know the malaise known as Boko Haram is not an insurgency that can easily be solved from the look of things. You are not more breathless when you know that days after the Nyanya attack, your president, who knows little of nothing, was in Kano dancing Kukere. You are more pained when the clownish Okupe, Maku, Abati told the world that the president is indeed humane and sensitive, and that the president had been through psychological pains over the incessant killings so he needed to get some freedom. Do normal people dance when they are sad? Is it campaign grounds you see psychiatric patients? Go to Uselu!

Most times, in times of trouble, you turn to religion for succour. But it is hardly a succour as you would want it to be. There are mixtures of posters and billboard of churches and politicians adorning the whole places to the extent of vexation. You are vexed because you cannot now differentiate between the obvious lying political claims and the fake pastors and their wives in the poster promising you that your problems would all be solved if you come for their programs in churches. There is that medley of that usual deceit between the posters of the politicians and the religious advert. ‘Send me to the state assembly, trusted and tested.’ ‘Accountability and transparency… infrastructure and overhead bridge…’ ‘Prophetic 14 days vigil; all bareness, cancer, sour throat, poverty….all gone.’ ‘three days deliverance power-pack conference…’ you can’t actually spot the difference except you are not ‘blind.’

But because you believe in GOD, you try to go to any of such much advertised programs, probably, you are disappointed when you start receiving bank accounts from ushers, the pastor’s jerry coiled permed hair drips oil, dressed in shinning amour, rather than humble clothes…when its time for ‘offering’, which is conducted several times, your pockets are drained of whatever money you have. The magic of the piano mixed with the soft-spoken ‘man of God’ had even made you ‘give’ away your only car. Before then, he had told you people to slap his blessed hands with 5000 naira, and you happen to be among those who walked blindly, being directed by a conspiring usher since you cannot really see. You go home to nothing, not even with the promises of heaven on earth you were told. What do you do? You get some measure of breathlessness because you are actually drained.

This brings you to the realization that there is poverty around you that nothing is really taking away, not even the government you had so much believed was going to bring ‘fresh air.’ You even breathe less when you are told by the government functionaries that your country is the biggest economy in Africa. You are hungry for air because they don’t know how long you stay on the queue to get fuel for 120 naira for a litre. They do not know that ‘NEPA’ are more equipped than even some banks; they have two standby generators should there be no light. Yes, you just could get some money to put fuel in your car, not enough for some to take home for your generator. The traffic is jammed; at some point, you want to faint in your stuffy car because you dare not put on your AC.

You are hungry for air. Even the monoxide you inhale is choking you. Ask those in Lagos; you will have baptismal of harsh stories. When you get home, there is actually no light, there in the dark, you are breathless out of frustration. You hardly can open your door, and you eventually get inside after several tries. You find out there is nothing left in your parlour and rooms. Your house is totally empty. First, you suspect robbers. Later your wife calls you; she had ‘given’ your all to the ‘man of God’ as ‘seed.’ You cry bitterly, you choke, you go into coma, and your neighbours are laughing at you through their windows. But you must be happy later that you didn’t die out of the consequence of these numerous asphyxia.

Written 2014, April 24th.

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